Ignore the Mac at your peril

Several years ago, I created a multimedia product with Director. At the time, nearly everyone had at least an 800×600 pixel screen, so I designed the (freakishly odd) interface to use one. It worked everywhere except on the Mac owned by the guy who had to sign off on the project, who had an ancient 640×480 screen.

That incident taught me that you can’t ignore minorities. If your product is designed only for the majority platform, you will piss some people off, and to some degree, this is inevitable. For example, a mobile-targeted web app is useful to anyone with a smartphone, but if you want more functionality than the web allows, or want to make money by selling it, you’ll likely be making an iPhone app and skipping the Android market.

In desktop computing just a few years ago, the majority of customers were on Windows, so a Mac client was often a second priority. A key fact, though: many bloggers, PR people, geeks and other tech tastemakers were on Macs. No Mac client, no buzz. Here’s a quote from a co-founder of a Dropbox competitor:

Next, we had issues getting the press excited at launch. We built a fantastic Windows client. 3 years ago, everyone was running Windows*. We were so excited to show the press, yet they *all* had Macs. Walt Mossberg wouldn’t write about our product because it was PC only. Months after we hired our PR agency, we found out that they had never even used our product… because they too only had Macs. It’s pretty hard to pitch a service when you haven’t used it.

At the end of the day, you’ll fail to cater for at least some part of your potential market. But if that market contains the people who would make your product popular, you’ve got serious problems.

If you want attention, general consumer market share is not nearly as important as market share among journalists, bloggers and techies.

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